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What Is the “Bread of an Evil-Eyed Man” in the Work?

Article No. 13, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89

It is written in The ZoharShemot [Exodus] (Item 21): “Rabbi Hiya started, ‘Do not eat the bread of an evil-eyed man,’ since it is not good to eat and enjoy the bread or the pleasure from that evil-eyed man. And had Israel not tasted the bread of the Egyptians when they went down to Egypt, they would not have been left in the exile in Egypt and they would not be able to harm them.” (In Item 23) It says, “There is no evil bread in the world but the bread of an evil-eyed man. What does it say? ‘Because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.’ This means that they could not look at the Hebrews eating. Thus, an evil-eyed bread.”

We should understand the prohibition of the “bread of an evil-eyed man,” to such an extent that had Israel not tasted the bread of the Egyptians, they would not have remained in exile. This is very perplexing. What is the connection between the “bread of an evil-eyed man” and the exile? Why does it cause them to be in exile, implying this is a grave prohibition? Is it included in the negative Mitzvot[prohibitions on certain actions] from the Torah or by our great sages, that it warrants exile?

To understand this in the work, we must always remember these two things before us: 1) The purpose of creation is to do good to His creations. This reminds us that we must achieve wholeness and merit receiving the delight and pleasure found in the purpose of creation. Prior to this, a person is regarded as deficient because he has not achieved the purpose of creation and is still in the middle of the work. In Kabbalah, this is considered that a person should be rewarded with attaining the NRNHY in the root of his soul. 2) The correction of creation. Since disparity of form creates separation, and since man was created in order to be able to receive the delight and pleasure, he must have a desire and yearning to receive pleasure, and that will to receive separates him from the root. Since the Creator wants to bestow, but the created beings have a desire to receive, this causes separation that removes the creatures from the Creator. Therefore, a correction took place, called Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment, whereby the creatures cannot feel their root—meaning who created them—before they correct the separation.

It is written (in the “Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” Item 10), “Thus, you find that this Nefesh, the light of life that is dressed in the body, extends from His essence, existence from existence. As it traverses the four worlds ABYA, it becomes increasingly distant from the light of His face until it comes into its designated Kli [vessel], called Guf [body]. And even if the light in it has so diminished that its origin becomes undetectable, through engagement in Torah and Mitzvot[commandments/good deeds] in order to bring contentment upon his Maker, he purifies his Kli, called Guf, until it becomes worthy of receiving the great abundance in the full measure included in the thought of creation, when He created it.”

Accordingly, we can understand that our work is to emerge from self-love, meaning that our sustenance should be from sustaining the body so it has life and can enjoy life not because the will to receive for oneself is enjoying, for it is called “evil-eyed,” meaning that it does not want to be a giver but wants only to receive for itself. This is called “evil-eyed,” when it does not want to give anything to others and is immersed in self-love.

This is called “evil-eyed.” Therefore, the nourishments that a person eats, which is called “bread,” are forbidden for a person to enjoy, as it is the “bread of an evil-eyed man.” That is, a person is enjoying and satiating himself on the bread of an evil-eyed man. That is, that which the evil-eyed man enjoys gives pleasure to the person. In other words, the will to receive, which is called “evil-eyed,” enjoys, and from this comes all the joy and high spirits that a person receives. This, he does not agree to receive because this pleasure causes him to part from the Kedusha [holiness] due to disparity of form.

Now we can understand what we asked, Why is the grave prohibition of “Do not eat the bread of an evil-eyed man,” for which Israel remained in exile? It is as it says, “Had Israel not tasted the bread of the Egyptians when they went down to Egypt, they would not have been left in the exile in Egypt.” “Exile” means that the people of Israel could not work in order to bestow upon the Creator, but only in order to receive for themselves. This is called the “exile in Egypt,” when they could not emerge from their control and the will to receive for oneself dominated. This is why The Zohar says that if, when they descended to exile in Egypt, they had been cautious not to eat—meaning not to enjoy what the Egyptians enjoy, meaning the evil-eye, which is the will to receive for oneself—they would not have come under their control in the exile.

It follows that the gravity of the prohibition of an evil-eyed man is because his bread is entirely in order to receive, and this causes all the separation from Kedusha. This is the prohibition of “Do not eat the bread of an evil-eyed man.” That is, all our work in Torah and Mitzvot is in order to emerge from the exile of the will to receive for ourselves. In other words, we must aim—while engaging in Torah and Mitzvot—that our reward will be that by this we will be rewarded with emerging from the exile and enslavement in the will to receive for ourselves, and we will be able to work only in order to bring contentment to the Creator, and we will not demand any other reward for our work in Torah and Mitzvot.

In other words, we want to be rewarded with feeling—while engaging in Torah and Mitzvot—that we are serving a great and important king, and that by this there will be love of the Creator within us, from feeling His exaltedness. However, all of our pleasure will come from serving the Creator; this will be our reward, and not that He will somehow reward us for the work. Instead, we will feel that the work itself is the reward, and there is no greater reward in the world than the privilege of serving the Creator.

Conversely, the bread of the Egyptians in the work is the complete opposite, as it is written, “Because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” “Abomination” comes from the verse, “for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians,” meaning that they despised the shepherds. For this reason, the meaning is that the Egyptians despised the food of the Hebrews, since all the bread of the Hebrews, meaning their nourishment, was in order to bestow, and to the Egyptians, all the bread is evil-eyed, namely to receive. When they heard that the Hebrews’ bread is to bestow, and bestowal is loathsome and despicable, since when they must work in order to bestow and not receive for their own sake, they regard this work as despicable and they do not feel any taste in it.

Therefore, as soon as the Egyptians heard that we must work in order to bestow, they came to feel that they must lower themselves, meaning that all their reason, which mandates that a person should see to his own benefit and they cannot do anything that does not yield self-benefit.

Therefore, when the body is under the governance of Egypt, as soon as it hears the slightest hint that we must work in order to bestow, it immediately despises this work and claims that it is still with all its wits and will not surrender and eat the Hebrews’ bread, as for them this bread is abomination because this bread is against reason.

Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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